Utah Pediatrician Encourages Parents To Get Teens Vaccinated
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — A top pediatrician in Utah has urged parents to get their children vaccinated now that the Pfizer vaccine has been authorized in the U.S. for children 12 years of age and older.
Dr. Andrew Pavia, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Utah and director of epidemiology at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital, said the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh the risks of catching COVID-19.
He said it was an important step to protecting the community from the virus.
In a media briefing on vaccines Monday, Pavia said the ability to vaccinate teens 12 to 18 years old was some of the best news we’ve had during the pandemic, and it’s time for teens to take advantage of the benefits.
“The benefits of getting vaccinated for 12 and up are really pretty clear,” he said.
He acknowledged that children are at lower risk of severe disease from COVID-19, but he said low risk doesn’t mean no risk.
More than 400 children have been hospitalized with the virus in Utah, and health officials said they were investigating two deaths that may be COVID-related.
Pavia said the virus can be miserable for kids.
“They don’t want to be fatigued and failing out of their classes and not able to compete in their sports for several months,” said Pavia.
The Pfizer vaccine has been made available for children across the state and is 95% effective at preventing COVID-19.
Pavia said there was another benefit to the vaccine.
“They get to return to a pretty normal life,” said Pavia. “No masks, you can go away to camp, you can hang out with your friends.”
The vaccine can also give parents peace of mind.
“By being vaccinated, they protect people around them,” said Pavia. “They help bring the pandemic to an end. They protect their circle of friends, some of who may be at high risk of disease — their relatives, their grandparents and their community.”
Pavia said there were side effects with any vaccine. So far, the most severe side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine, he said, were very rare.
If the parents have been vaccinated, he said, they know about the sore arm and potentially some flu-like symptoms that last about 24 hours.
Pavia also shared his assessment of the vaccination campaign in Utah.
“We’re doing a pretty good job, but we shouldn’t fool ourselves to think that we’re among the best states out there in vaccination,” he said.
Pavia said he would give the state of Utah a B- as only 54% of the state’s population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, while other states are approaching 60%.
“If we were the Jazz, we would say — you know, that’s not good enough, that’s not first place. We need to do better,” he said.
Despite the B- rating, Pavia thinks the way the vaccines were rolled out in Utah was very thoughtful and well planned out. He said the scheduling statewide helped eliminate the potential for long lines. Now, however, he said we are in an outreach phase of the campaign, which is more difficult.
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